The program encourages youngsters to read either 35 books or read for 15 hours and submit a log by the program’s July 20 cut-off date.
Each child that meets the requirement receives a packet containing stickers, coupons and gift certificates to area restaurants and other businesses and a free book.
“It’s something I can do during the summer and I like to read,” said Jackson, 11.
She has participated in a summer reading effort for two years.
Thursday, she had just cracked open Jenny Nimmo’s Midnight for Charlie Bone. When she finishes, it will be the fourth book she will have read since she began the program May 26.
Guo had just started reading Lord of the Rings. It was his sixth book in two weeks.
“I read really fast,” he said.
He said the library programs help with summer boredom.
The reading program is broken down into age groups: Up to 12 years, 13-19 and 18 and older.
Along with the reading program, one of many activities for teens at the library during the summer is game day, where teens play board games and snack on cookies and lemonade.
All branches offer a variety of activities or classes for all age groups. The schedule is available on the East Central Georgia Regional Libraries Web site and at each branch. Movies will be shown, and children who attend will receive the book for free. The next movie is Charlotte’s Web, which will be shown at the Wallace Branch Library at 2 p.m. June 16.
The Columbia County library offers similar activities to go with its summer reading program, which is very similar to Richmond County’s. The activities are designed to get young people into the library and to present the library as a fun place to go, said children’s librarian Natalie Pulley.
The Columbia County main branch recently offered a Wii Just Dance tournament for ages 8-12. She said 35 children came out for the event.
“That’s the sort of thing that gets them in here. Then hopefully when they’re here they’ll do other things,” Pulley said. “We hope they’ll check out a book and take it home.”
Last year, 1,500 children in the 0-12 age group completed the summer reading program at Columbia County’s three branches.
At the Augusta main branch, Children’s Services Manager Eileen McCoy requested materials such as coupons and certificates for 5,000 prize packets to be distributed among participants at each of Richmond County’s six branches. She will also send a letter to school principals announcing the participants from their schools. Those children are often recognized in school for their participation over the summer.
Two years ago, the library initiated an adult summer reading program, as well. Adults who want to participate receive a bingo sheet with a variety of reading-related tasks. When they complete a row of tasks, they can turn their sheets in for a coffee mug.
“To me, it’s like summer reading is supposed to be a family thing,” McCoy said. “Kids get so excited to see their moms participate in summer reading.
Tricia Hughes is participating in the adult program for the first time. She picked up a copy of Jules Feiffer’s The Phantom Tollbooth with her participation form.
She said she loves to read but has had a hard time lately making herself read a book. She sees the adult program as a way to encourage herself back into reading.
“If I sign up for something, I’m more likely to do it,” she said.